Notre Dame Football’s Top 25 Players for 2020

We’re a little late this year, but we did rank the top 25 players on Notre Dame’s roster again this year before the start of the season. Unlike past years though, we are publishing them in one post instead of five – partly because of time and partly because it seemed like everyone lost interest each year by the fifth post. That said, here is our countdown of the top 25 players on the Notre Dame roster this year.

25. Michael Mayer (TE, Freshman)

Greg took a bit of a bigger leap of faith in the freshman tight end than myself ranking him 23rd overall while I left him off my ballot. I think the frosh will player some this year but there are a lot of weapons on this offense for Ian Book to spread the ball around to.

24. Bennett Skowronek (WR, Graduate)

Greg was a bit more bullish on Skowronek as well ranking him 22nd overall while I had him as the 25th ranked player. Skowronek should be a steady player who fills in nicely for Kevin Austin until he returns from injury. Notre Dame doesn’t need him to be anything he’s not in that time. They need him to be a steady, chain moving, reliable target, big-bodied receiver for Ian Book.

23. Jonathan Doerer (K, Senior)

We were both right in line in our rankings for Doerer, but this is one I think I actually already regret – I think I should have ranked him higher. Doerer was a weapon for Notre Dame in 2019 and he could be even better in 2020. He always had a leg, but last year he was consistent and clutch and if he even just repeats his 2019 performance, he’s a top 20 player.

22. Jayson Ademilola (DT, Junior)

This was one of the bigger discrepancies between Greg and my ballot. I had Ademilola ranked as the 17th best player on the roster, but he was absent from Greg’s. Maybe I am a bit higher on Ademilola because I used to live in the town next to Jersey City while the Ademilola twins played at St. Peter’s Prep, but I think he’s going to be a monster in the middle of the defense this year and at minimum split reps with Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa.

21. Kurt Hinish (BG, Senior)

This is about right for where Hinish should fit in the rankings for Notre Dame. He’ll be a third-year starter in 2020, but to date, he’s mainly been just steady. It would be a bit surprising if he had a breakthrough and became truly dominant this year, but he doesn’t need to be for the Notre Dame defense to be stout once again. He’s a steady presence in the middle of the line and with sophomore Jacob Lacey ready to play more snaps, Hinish won’t be relied on to play as many snaps which could keep him fresher throughout the season.

20. Isaiah Foskey (DE, Sophomore)

By next year, Foskey should be a top 10 player on the Notre Dame roster, but for this year his role likely won’t be large enough to crack the top 10. That said, Foskey is a star in the making on the Irish defensive line and it wouldn’t be surprising if he forced his way onto the field more than most expect him to right now.

19. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (DT, Senior)

Like Hinish, MTA has been a steady player on the interior of the defensive line the last few seasons. Unlike Hinish, MTA has two years of eligibility left because an injury cost him basically all of 2018. I expect Ademilola to push MTA throughout the season and while I am very high on Ademilola, I do think there is another level that MTA can reach that we haven’t seen yet.

18. Kyren Williams (RB, Sophomore)

Had we done the rankings in July, Williams would not have been anywhere in the top 25, but he had a huge camp and has locked up the starting running back gig – at least according to the latest depth chart. Props to Greg who was in on the Williams hype train much sooner than most.

17. Aaron Banks (OG, Senior)

Ironically, the one offensive lineman that the ACC media voted to the All-ACC Preseason team, is the lowest-rated offensive lineman in our rankings. Banks has been solid but was pushed by Josh Lugg last year. He’s got the talent to outplay this ranking and be the best Irish offensive lineman based on talent alone, but to date that potential hasn’t match production. Greg was a bit higher in his ranking of Banks as #14 versus by #22 slotting.

16. Shaun Crawford (CB/S, Graduate)

I must admit I was shocked that I ranked Crawford higher than Greg since Crawford was one of the first big defensive back crushes I recall Greg writing about at UHND. Crawford was named one of five captains for Notre Dame on Tuesday, and if injuries hadn’t robbed him of so much time and some explosiveness, he’d be ball-hawking in the NFL right now.

15. Chris Tyree (RB, Freshman)

Greg and I both ranked Tyree as the 16th best player on the roster. Because of some discrepancies in our other rankings though, Tyree slots in at #15 overall. Like Foskey, Tyree will be in the top 10 next year and could still this year. It will all depend on how much of a load he can handle. All signs have indicated, however, that the hype surrounding him was warranted.

14. Jarrett Patterson (OC, Junior)

Last year’s surprise starter at center comes in at #14 overall. Patterson held his own in 2019, but Notre Dame needs him to take a big step forward in 2020 since he could be the only returning starter on the offensive line in 2021 depending on what senior Aaron Banks does following the season.

13. Tariq Bracy (CB, Junior)

We were both right in the same range with Bracy (I had him 14th, Greg 13th). Notre Dame needs him to play to that ranking in 2020 for a secondary replacing three starters.

12. Drew White (MIKE, Senior)

This is another one I’d like back. I had White #12 versus Greg’s #9 and think Greg is probably right on this one. White surprised everyone by coming out of nowhere to lead Notre Dame in tackles in 2019. In year two of being the starting MIKE, White should be even better.

11. Tommy Kraemer (OG, Graduate)

We were flipped with Kraemer’s ranking compared to White – I had him 9th, Greg 12th. Kraemer has the talent to end the season ranked even higher but to date, we haven’t seen him take the final step to become a truly dominant player.

10. Kevin Austin (WR, Junior)

Had he not gotten hurt early in camp I have no doubt that he would have been the talk of camp. It’s a shame that Notre Dame fans have to wait even longer to see Austin on the field after he missed 2019 because of suspension because when he finally gets on the field, he will light it up. Without the injury, I would have ranked him in my top 5. As is, I still had him 7th overall.

9. Ade Ogundeji (DE, Graduate)

This was another of our biggest discrepancies between rankings. I had Ade ranked #5 overall, but Greg had him just outside the top 10 at #11. By the end of last year, a strong argument could have been made that Ogundeji was Notre Dame’s best defensive lineman. Remember his crazy end to the 2019 season. I expect that to be the norm for him in 2020.

8. Braden Lenzy (WR, Junior)

Lenzy is one of two players we have ranked in the top 10 who is not officially listed as a starter on the depth chart, but that could be a bit of posturing by Brian Kelly. Make no mistake, assuming there are no lingering health issues in the wide receiver room, Lenzy is Notre Dame’s big-play threat in the passing game. Expect Tommy Rees to get him the ball in a number of different ways.

7. Robert Hainsey (OT, Senior)

Hainsey is the reverse situation of Ogundeji. Greg had him #5, I had him #11. If Hainsey cuts down on the penalties and takes a step forward this year similar to what Mike McGlinchey did from 2016 to 2017, well then Greg is probably going to look much more accurate at season’s end. The now two-time captain is the clear leader of the offensive line.

6. Tommy Tremble (TE, Junior)

Tremble gets the distinction of being the highest-rated player in our countdown that is not listed as a starter. Brock Wright is currently listed as the starting tight end, but that could be for his blocking skills so technically, he might start. Tremble, on the other hand, is a weapon in the passing game that needs to be unleashed. I would not be shocked if Tremble had a breakout campaign and had the opportunity to leave early for the NFL.

5. Liam Eichenberg (OT, Graduate)

The OL with the best chance to continue Notre Dame’s 1st-round OL draft pick tradition is starting left tackle Liam Eichenberg. Greg had him at #4 in his rankings while I was a bit more bearish on him at #8, but Eichenberg has all the tools and talent to be a high pick this year if he improves in his 2019 performance.

4. Daelin Hayes (DE, Graduate)

I thought we would have a bit more consensus at the top of the rankings as opposed to the bottom, but we were a bit off with Hayes. I had him #3 overall, Greg had him #7. Before his injury in 2019 though, he was looking like every bit of the 5-star prospect Notre Dame stole away from USC. If he picks up where he left off, he’ll be a top 5 player for the Irish.

3. Ian Book (QB, Graduate)

Again, we were slightly off here with Greg ranking Book #2 overall and me having him as #4, but the consensus is that Book is pretty damn good and better than most Notre Dame fans give him credit for. He’s not Trevor Lawrence, but he will leave Notre Dame at the top of the record books in almost every passing category if he gets to play the full 11-game schedule.

2. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ROVER, Senior)

Coming in at #2 is the player most likely to hear their name called first in next year’s draft – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. I had him as my #1 overall because I look back to the Camping World Bowl and think of the havoc he caused that afternoon and get very excited about him doing that over an entire season. JOK is going to be a damn nightmare for the ACC this year.

1. Kyle Hamilton (S, Sophomore)

Surprise, surprise. A top 25 countdown that Greg participated in ended with Kyle Hamilton being ranked #1 overall. While Greg did have Hamilton #1 overall, I had him right behind at #2. There was a lot of Hamilton talk over the summer, but with closed practices, there was no unofficial interception tracker for him. One of the biggest reasons to hope the season can be safely completed this year is because we know we are on borrowed time with a talent like Hamilton. It would be a shame to lose any games from him this year because all signs point to him being the kind of player who will be able to leave after his junior season and be a very high draft pick.

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One Comment

  1. LB Shane Simon would have been in my top 25, and LB Drew White definitely in my top 10 at least.
    I’m expecting a break-out year for Simon, with LB Bo Bauer also not recognized as much mainly because of his limited reps behind White. I still hold reservations about the OL, especially as run blockers. A lot of the blame for their performance was put upon Jones and Armstrong. With everyone in the OL back, and potential stars Tyree and Williams added to the mix, the OL will be expected to improve on last year. I’m betting on Duke stacking their D’ against the run, opening up the play-action pass for Book. Book it! The abundance of potential stars among the front line D’7 under the excellent coaching of DC Lea and Elston should not disappoint as (if) the season progresses.

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